Home NewsAsia Students press Wits to stand with Palestine

Students press Wits to stand with Palestine

by Zahid Jadwat

Students assembled outside the Wits Great Hall on Tuesday, 07 May 2024. 


The watermelon colours of the Palestinian flag fluttered in contrast to the blue and gold banners draped down the columns of the Great Hall at the University of the Witwatersrand.

On Tuesday, a few hundred students assembled on campus to support a call for the university’s administration to show solidarity with Palestine. They charged it with a poor response to their concerns, urging it to do more.

Some held placards reminding fellow students that there were “no universities left in Gaza”. Others made it clear that “resistance is not terrorism”. The keffiyeh, a powerful symbol of resistance, was also easily spotted in the crowd.

The president of the Wits Students’ Representative Council (SRC) made an impassioned call when she ascended the steps of the Great Hall. She told young people to “take a stance against any form of injustice”, wherever in the world that may be.

“It’s important to … show the institution that there is a constituency in this university that requires a certain stance be taken by the university,” said Bukisa Boniswa.


SMread: Aid halted as Israel seizes Rafah crossing

Letter to Wits administration

In a letter to vice chancellor Professor Zeblon Vilakazi and council chair Mr Isaac Shongwe, a string of organisations led by the Wits University Palestine Action Committee (WUPAC) spelled out five demands.

This was what they asked for:

1) full disclosure and access to information with regards to Wits investments
and collaborations with Apartheid Israel-aligned institutions and companies
2) taking a public position in solidarity with Palestine
3) the adoption of a Boycott Disinvestment and Sanctions (BDS) position
regarding procurement, investments and collaborations
4) a sincere reflection on the meaning on what academic freedom means in
relation to Israel, and
5) an end to the silencing of pro-Palestinian activists, statements and activities
on campus.

Speaking to Salaamedia, first-year psychology student Amirah Vawda said it was important for students to rise in solidarity with those in Palestine, where a seven-month bombardment has decimated education.

“We’re very fortunate to not only have a functioning university to attend, but to come to a well-maintained campus with libraries, computers and lecture halls. Remembering that this isn’t the case for everyone, especially the students of Gaza, is what makes events like this important,” she said.

“Everyone has a right to education, and we have to help students who are denied that right,” she added.

Meanwhile, Wits communications officer Buhle Zuma said: “The memorandum will be reviewed, and the University will respond to the students in due course”.

The protest at Wits University was not an isolated incident. On the same day that students there gathered to hand over a memorandum, about 125 activists were arrested when police dispersed a pro-Palestine camp at the University of Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Similar sit-ins have sprung up on campuses in France, the United Kingdom, Finland, Denmark, Germany as well as the United States. They pressed the world to keep an eye on the southern Gaza city of Rafah, where Israel has shifted its War of Extermination.

Related Videos